NOVELIST I SONGWRITER I MUSIC PRODUCER
Donnacha lives on a remote Irish island. Haunted by the memory of his institutionalised wife and failing at being a surrogate father to his niece and nephew, he tries to find new meaning in his life by giving refuge to an African teen who has albinism.
In parts of Africa, people with albinism are considered magical and witch doctors convince people that taking a broth made from their body parts brings good luck and wealth. This makes them a hunted people.
Dubliner, Jonah Odjinwahlia has a world-changing scientific theory. But when his petty criminal of a father plans to sell him to traffickers, he hides away on the island of Treoir. But his arrival amongst the sheltered community sparks old superstitions. When Jonah goes missing his benefactor and guardian, Donnacha, sets off on a perilous trek across Tanzania.
Set against an ultra-conservative backdrop, Treoir is both a gripping plot and a treatise on cultural norms and superstitions that span the modern and third world and our arbitrary remedies for the fragility of human nature—that can legitimise our most abhorrent behaviours.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 October 2020
But, clearly needing more problems, he decides to help Jonah, an albino youth from Dublin, whose Tanzanian family are proposing to sell him to a witch-doctor. Jonah’s arrival demonstrates it’s not only Tanzanians who are superstitious about Albinism. The youth’s presence upsets the locals, and not only those who already have a problem with Donnacha.
The world on the island is clearly not as Donnacha sees it, and at the start I wanted to shake him shouting, Wake up! Like many drunks, he takes to the booze at the worst of times, making himself vulnerable to his enemies. This is a complex novel with many strands. The characters, especially Donnacha, are well drawn.
The claustrophobia of the closed community on the island is well realised and builds. When Jonah disappears, Donnacha has to make a tough decision. Fearing he has failed yet another person, he risks everything and sets off on an expedition to recover the youth.
The danger and threats build to a satisfying climax.